Piura to Chimbote. 10,300 miles 21st July
Rather than cycle 200 Km across dry, flat, featureless desert and especially as there would be a stiff headwind all the way, we caught a bus. This cost about two pounds each and took us to Chiclayo in comfort.
Chiclayo is a large bustling town with an enormous market. In the first section, they were selling shark and very large squid about 2-3 ft long in the body excluding the tentacles. Our hotel room cost us 32 soles and was right on the main plaza. To our surprise there were two taps in the shower and one of them actually gave hot water (for a while!)
Internet access is now 2-3 soles per hour.
On Sunday morning we were awoken by a band playing outside in the plaza. From the balcony we could see below us a huge parade of soldiers and others. All the streets were blocked off to the plaza and a flag raising ceremony was going on. There was a whole group of VIP's and senior military saluting each other. Armed guards surrounded them.
About 20 miles away there were some 1500 year old ruins where in 1987 they found the burial chamber of an ancient chief complete with all the gold and bodies of his entourage. We spent another day in Chiclayo and went to see the ruins by bus. The fare was about 20p each.
The actual ruins consisted of very decrepit pyramids made from adobe bricks (mud and straw). As they were 1500 years old it was surprising that anything survived. The museum display of the finds was much more impressive.
On to Pacasmayo across more desert although there were a few fertile spots where villages occurred. Pacasmayo is a seaside town and we tried a nice sea-front hotel, but they wanted and exorbitant 60 soles per double room (12.50pounds). We found a nice room a block away for 30 soles including television.
In the local market we bought 10 large bananas, a kilo of mandarins and a pineapple for 4 soles the lot (80p). By the way petrol costs..... a gallon(US), equivalent to a British litre.
More boring desert with the now usual stiff headwind which makes the day very tiring. However, we did see a desert fox and a large 4ft snake, which sped across the road in front of us.
Trujillo eventually arrived and we spent an hour trying to find a recommended hotel only to find it had closed. Now getting near dark and we opted for a pleasant looking Hostal Central to find that it was one of the grubbiest yet. But - it did have hot water and it was only 20 soles. Treated ourselves to a meal in a restaurant at 5 pounds for the two of us. It was a three course meal consisting of a starter with potato and egg mayonnaise, chicken noodle soup, large hamburger with chips and salad, toast and butter and a glass of red wine. Joan couldn't eat it all.
Decided to stay another day to see a few sights including a vast expanse of 20 sq.km containing ruins of a 1000-year-old city called Chan-Chan. Like most other ruins around here, it was built of adobe bricks which are not very weather resistant, but what remains is still very impressive and stretches almost to the horizon. It was said to have 40,000 inhabitants.
On our map was what looked like a good detour for the first part of the day to Viru. A minor road turned off the main Pan-American and went along the beach for about 5 miles before turning back onto the main road again. We took it. After a couple of miles it became dirt and then sand and then very soft sand. "It must improve" said David, "it turns back to the main road soon". Dragging our bikes across the sand we came to a chicken farm and asked where the road was. It did not turn back to the main road and we were directed to take a track to it. After about a mile over sand dunes we eventually found the road. What Greta would call a "little adventure" So much for our map.
Eventually arrived at Viru. Hot water for 20 soles! On the way to Chimbote we met two German cycle tourists going the other way (with the wind behind them!) These are the first we have seen since Quito. In the guide books, Chimbote is described as smelly. It certainly was as we entered because the town is the biggest fish processor in Peru. Once in the town, it was ok.
Decision time. We have had enough of the coastal desert for a while and have decided to head up into the mountains.
Dave and Joan